Every community encompasses various forms of talent and skill, but they don’t always have the resources to act on and explore their creative capacity. If a library is a place where people come in to search for information, why can’t it also be a place where they utilize that information to construct ideas?
“Empowerment comes from that daydreaming place….. Introducing ideas, connecting the dots, creating pathways, opening the door to the world is like being an architect of dreams (Smith, 2013). So give them the space, give them resources and watch your community bloom and bring to life those visions.
The enthusiasm for Maker Spaces is shared among many public libraries and librarians. I see it playing a huge role in the transformation of community libraries, especially those communities that want to be inspired, lifted and given an outlet to think and then do.
Community Description & Goals
Your Space is designed for all of its community members at the Lewis library part of the St Lucie County Library System. Its objective is to encourage its entire community to utilize software and equipment provided to them with their free library card to turn their vision into reality. Regardless of age and expertise, the Your Space station is designed for independent and/or collaborative projects and will provide its community with opportunities to partake in workshops aimed to give them a boost, remove barriers, and become their own artists, engineers, and producers. Your Space will include 6 computers, one that will be associated with a 3D printer. 5 computers will include software for video/photo editing, stop motion animation, music producing/editing, midi controllers, graphic novel design and coding software. Space will also be designated for crafts, props and circuit boards with sensors.
Goal: Promote creativity and share ideas.
Goal: Provide support and training to staff and patrons.
Goal: Develop a community maker mentality.
Goal: Increase usage of the Your Space station through outreach with schools and organizations.
Action Brief Statement
Convince the entire community that by opening up their imaginative and inventive minds they will discover and create ideas with various tools which will turn thoughts into reality because each member, patron, person has what it takes to grow.
Hundreds of public libraries have already invested in maker spaces and have seen wonderful outcomes. Some of the challenges libraries will face when forming their maker spaces include, finding adequate space, funding to purchase software and equipment, and getting patrons to come back to reuse these creative outlets.
Success is visible, for example, the Broward County Library System opened up their Creation Station Lab in 2014 and according to Stephen Grubb, has since been averaging 1,200 visitors monthly.
The Teen Center Creative Lab is another great example. Situated at the Richland Library in South Carolina, their lab has seen an increase in teen participation by focusing on new technologies and opportunities that they are unable to come across elsewhere.
At the St. Louis Public Library in Montana, their digital maker space, Creative Experience, is geared towards people of all ages to create photos, videos, music, games and coding and features several audio software to record and publish their music. It is also allowed them to hold a monthly open mic night that patrons look forward to share their talents.
Your Space at the Lewis Library is determined to strengthen maker mentality to all, with the opportunity to inspire you with creator tools in order to discover your artistic talent and make them a reality.
Guidelines & Policies
- Your Space can welcome individuals’ or groups of up to 15 people.
- You must be a card holder and can have no more than $10 in fines on your library account to use the facility.
- Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by an adult unless they are part of a library program/workshop.
- Equipment must remain in the room unless otherwise noted from library staff.
- Patrons are encouraged to bring in external devices to save any work created using one of the software’s made available on any one of the computer stations.
- All patrons must adhere to all library policies and patron code of conduct.
Library Director, Branch Manager, and Technical Services will be involved in policy making and guidelines for the Your Space station.
Funding and expenditures to purchase computers, 3D printer, software and other equipment will rely on library budget and grants. To remain budget savvy, one of the several conference rooms will be considered for conversion for the maker space.
Grants to apply for will include the following:
- Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grant for Libraries – Innovation Grant
- The Awesome Innovation in Libraries Chapter
Action Steps & Timeline
The Branch Manager will review the plan first for any recommendations before being proposed to the Library Director. Upon approval, Technical Services will observe logistics and suggest software and hardware concerns. In the event of any budget concerns, the purchase of a 3D printer will be pushed back until resources become available.
After purchase off all software and equipment, Digital Specialist and Technical Assistant will assume responsibility of the Your Space station and will take part in training through free webinars, video tutorials and hands-on experience. Each staff member of the branch will then be offered workshops by the two designated employees running the stations to learn about the features and specs offered.
Children, teen and adult programming and workshops will be designed and implement once the maker space goes live.
Completion of the plan will require a year of preparation and after a trial year, a three year plan will be initiated to allow the 5 other branches of the Library System to open up their own maker spaces as well.
The current Digital Specialist and Technical Assistant will require 15 hours a week set aside for program planning and workshops. Each month will feature a new software workshop for patrons with 2 different sessions to attend in the evening. Two new programs for children and teens will utilize the room for basic robotics and stop motion animation and will meet once a month for 5 consecutive months.
Training for all of the devices, software and hardware will take part through a 3 month period with the help of the Technical Services department, Webinars, On-site training at the local college and hands-on learning and practice. The Digital Specialist and Technical Assistant will require rigorous training and then offer basic training for the other staff members. Training of the staff members will be done in 3 different groups with 3 different sessions before opening hours.
Promotion & Marketing
Brochures, Social Networking sites, guest appearance by Branch Manager and Digital Specialist at St Lucie County local TV station and word of mouth will be used to promote Your Space. Outreach will also be considered with local schools and organizations like the Boys and Girls club, St Lucie County Reading Council and The Indian River Lagoon festival.
High school students looking for volunteer hours will be given the opportunity to create promotional videos and tutorials using Your Space and have their projects posted on social media sites like Facebook.
Statistics will be generated ever month through computer sign-ins and patron attendance to workshops and library programs. Feedback will be encouraged that could include short surveys designed to answer questions that revolve around user experience and room for improvement.
In my experience, patrons have always offered insights on what it is they want to learn and what they would love for their library to offer and it is these recommendations that should not be taken for granted. The best thing we can do for our community is to listen.
Smith, P. (2013). Architects of dreams Pam Sandlian Smith on the power of childrens librarians. School Library Journal. http://www.slj.com/2013/05/public-libraries/architects-of-dreams-pam-sandlian-smith-on-the-power-of-childrens-librarians/#_
Urban Libraries Council (2014). Makerspaces in Libraries. http://www.urbanlibraries.org/-makerspaces-in-libraries-pages-338.php
Parker, K. (2016). Makerspace in Public Libraries. http://2016.informationprograms.info/kmparker/2016/09/25/makerspaces-in-public-libraries/
ALA Grants (2017). American Library Association. http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/awards/browse/grnt?showfilter=no
Library Works (2017). https://www.libraryworks.com/grants–funding
St. Lucie County Reading Council http://www.slcreadingcouncil.org/
Indian River Lagoon Science Festival http://www.irlsciencefest.org/